The printing press that symbolises kibbutz’s Be’eri’s spirit of survival

The business at the heart of devastated Kibbutz Be’eri was back to work within days of October 7


The largest printing press in Israel still stands tall in the Gaza border kibbutz that was devastated in the October Hamas massacre.

Of the 97 residents who were killed during the attack, nearly half had at some point worked at the press.

Yet the day after the attack, the company board, many of whose members reside in Kibbutz Be’eri, was already working on plans to restore its operations as quickly as possible.

“The print house is the heart of our community. We fought hard to hold our heads up and keep working despite the loss we experienced,” Naor Pakciarz, chief marketing officer, told the JC. “We quickly realised that it would take a lot of time for the kibbutz to recover. We needed to give our community hope and a reason to return by making sure that the factory would survive.”

A historical and financial pillar of the Kibbutz Be’eri community, the printing house was established in 1950, making it almost as old as the kibbutz itself.

Employing 40 per cent of the kibbutz’s workforce, it generates 90 per cent of its revenues by providing some of Israel’s largest banks, telecommunications and insurance companies with printed materials for billing services as well credit cards, gift cards and chequebooks.

The building, which was closed on October 7, suffered only minor exterior damage during the Hamas attack.

“Our CEO worked with the Israeli president, the government and the army while I managed the relationships with our clients,” Pakciarz explained. “You can’t stop the Israeli economy because of what happened.

“In the first few days, we juggled client meetings and funerals. We had to dry our tears and find a way to be productive. It quickly became clear we had lost ten members of our workforce.”

The number has since climbed with missing persons eventually confirmed dead by Israeli authorities. Some of the 30 kibbutz residents Hamas kidnapped have been pronounced dead in captivity, including, last week, Yossi Sharabi, who once worked at the factory.

On 10 October, factory employees were back to work, checking that heavy equipment remained functional. Within the week, President Isaac Herzog officially reopened the press in a special ceremony.

At first, the factory prioritised the needs of the population over making a profit.

“Citizens needed their credit cards, their driving licences or even gift cards that were sent to them in challenging times. We made sure that they received them,” Pakciarz said.

Michael Elkrief, 45, from Ashdod, was among the first workers to return to the press in the aftermath of Hamas’s assault. “Since October 7, it does not feel as if we live in the same world,” he told the JC. “For the first three days, there was no cell signal, we could not reach anyone and did not know who had survived.

“The first week, we stayed home. On 18 October, I boarded a bullet-proof bus. We drove through Road 232, which we called among ourselves the road of death.

“Kibbutz Be’eri looked nothing like the flourishing town we had left before October 7. We’d hear sirens signalling rockets and artillery fire all the time. Eventually, we got used to it.”

He described scenes of chaos and destruction, abandoned cars set on fire or riddled with bullets, deserted houses now serving as bases for IDF soldiers, a kindergarten ravaged by Hamas terrorists and looted property, the belongings of residents, strewn across towns and villages.

Now, Elkrief views his work as part of a broader mission. “I needed to feel useful. I am not a soldier. The only thing I could do was come to work despite everyone telling me not to,” he said.

Pakciarz views the press’s ongoing operations not only as an essential continuum, connecting the pre- and post-October 7 realities, but also as an opportunity to rebuild the community. “On October 7, Kibbutz Be’eri had its local squad who fought Hamas terrorists. Post-October 7, we became the squad who fought for the future of our community,” he said. “If we ever wanted the option of coming back to kibbutz Be’eri, we needed to do this.”

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